An Extreme Case of Poor Estate Planning

Last year, Roman Blum died at the age of 97, leaving an estate valued at nearly $40 million. He also died without a will. Blum made millions building hundreds of houses in the vicinity of Staten Island. He had no known living family members, and if none are found, then his estate will escheat to the state of New York, making it the largest unclaimed estate in the state’s history.

This is an extreme example of poor estate planning, in which a man very successful in business nonetheless neglects the relatively straightforward task of directing where his money should go upon his death. It is unfortunate that this person missed the opportunity to leave bequests to his friends or charitable organizations that he cared about.

Blum’s estate is being handled by a public administrator overseen by the Richmond County Surrogate’s Court.  The administrator is in the process of selling Blum’s property, paying his taxes and conducting an extensive search for any living relative. If that search fails, the money goes to the state government.

Although this case is unusual, many people do not properly prioritize estate planning and fail to take full advantage of the choices they have in deciding how they would like their assets distributed when they die.  In addition, proper estate planning can save your heirs money by structuring your estate in a way that is most advantageous in terms of taxes and probate costs.


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